Long Story Short
The mix of caffeine and alcohol in drinks, such as Jagerbombs or vodka and Red Bull, can cause drinkers to become “wide awake drunk” – a dangerous state that puts you at increased risk of accidents and injuries.
If only booze didn’t make you fall asleep. Imagine the hours of fun we’d all have if, instead of being slumped over unconscious in the corner of some party, we could enjoy hours and hours of carefree drinking.
That’s where energy drinks come in – Red Bull, Monster, Relentless, and a whole manner of other caffeine-based syrupy beverages with vaguely threatening names.
Vodka and Red Bull has long been a Friday night standard, while the Jagerbomb is the universally recognised sign that a night out is about to go up a notch. And lord knows what other booze-energy drink cocktails the kids are drinking these days.
But according to research from the University of Victoria Canada, the mixing of alcohol and caffeinated drinks could be a major health risk. Yes, even worse than the usual damaged liver and massive hangover that comes with standard alcohol consumption.
The effect of energy drink mixers is what researchers have called “wide awake drunk” – a combination of the brain-slowing effects of booze, and over-stimulation that comes with caffeine.
Looking at 13 studies conducted between 1981 and 2016, researchers found links in 10 of the studies between energy drink mixed alcohol and an increased risk of falls, accidents, and even fights.
It could also cause problems with sleep and an increased heart rate, though research on this is inconclusive.
What is sure though, is that energy drinks do pack in an incredible amount of caffeine – about 80mg in those dinky 250ml Red Bull cans. That’s the equivalent of a cup of coffee and more than double the amount contained in a can of Coca-Cola. High levels of caffeine can cause anxiety and high blood pressure.
Audra Roemer, study author and doctoral student at the University of Victoria, says: “Usually when you’re drinking alcohol, you eventually get tired and you go home.
“Energy drinks mask that, so people may underestimate how intoxicated they are, end up staying out later, consume more alcohol, and engage in risky behaviour and more hazardous drinking practices.”
Maybe you’re better off slumped over in the corner, after all.
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Are you aware of how much caffeine you consume, and how it’s affecting your health?
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Official health guidelines in the Netherlands say people should drink between three and five cups a tea per day, because it can reduce the risks of blood pressure, diabetes, and strokes.